Ford Fiesta 5th & 6 Gen: Buying Guide & Common Faults
The Ford Fiesta isn’t just a household name; it has earned a reputation for being one of the best hatchbacks on the market. The fifth generation model was sold between 2002 and 2008 and at the time was the best-selling Fiesta to date. This model was available with a variety of engines, including 1.3, 1.4, and 1.6 litre petrol engines, plus 1.4 and 1.6 litre diesels. It came in three- and five-door body styles and there was even a high-performance Fiesta ST model powered by a 150hp 2.0-litre petrol engine.
With the sixth generation, which arrived in 2008, came an all-new platform that gave the Fiesta sharper handling, and it remains to this day one of the best hatchbacks to drive. A new range of smaller, yet more powerful engines were also introduced for the sixth generation. A choice of 1.0, 1.25, 1.4, and 1.6 litre petrol engines along with 1.4 and 1.6 litre diesels were available. As before, there were three and five-door body styles and the Fiesta ST arrived in 2012. More recently, Ford introduced a special edition Fiesta ST200, with even more power and some styling updates unique to that model.
In general, there aren’t any major common faults with the Duratec and Duratorq engines in the fifth-generation Fiesta, but of course there will be some that have not had the easiest of lives in terms of maintenance and use. One thing to watch out for is a problematic water pump. The easiest way to spot this is to listen carefully for any unusual noises from the engine when it is at idle. They are relatively straightforward and inexpensive to replace and if doing so it is recommended to replace the drive belts at the same time.
Other things to look out for include exhaust issues. In rare cases, it has been reported that the exhaust manifold on sixth-generation Fiestas can come loose, which can lead to hot gasses leaking into the engine bay and potentially causing overheating – or in worse cases melting plastic components such as the cooling fan moulding. A tell-tale sign of this is any exhaust fumes coming into the cabin or a louder than expected exhaust.
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engines in newer models appear to be mostly trouble-free, but as with many turbocharged engines do check that they are performing correctly. Watch out for any newer models that don’t have service histories, but if you do buy one that hasn’t regularly been serviced doing a full oil and filter change is best practice as soon as possible.
Both 1.25- and 1.4-litre petrol engines have been known to develop issues with the electronic accelerator control (EAC). This fault manifests itself as an error with the throttle position sensor and can lead to rough running and an engine check light. In 2010 Ford did produce updated throttle bodies, but the car you’re looking at may still have an older version.
All fifth-generation Fiesta models came with five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions. Both are solidly built systems and tend not to give too much trouble. Do look out for any clutch slip under harder acceleration, as that may signify that a replacement clutch will be due soon. If the clutch does fail, it may be simply down to a spring washer on the shaft that is located behind the clutch pedal. If this comes loose or breaks, as was relatively common on this model it can appear as if the clutch has failed. Fixing this part is certainly cheaper and quicker, so it is worth checking that out before assuming you need to shell out for a whole new clutch.
Newer sixth-generation Fiestas came with either five- or six-speed manual, or four- or six-speed automatic transmissions. Manual gearboxes should have a solid feel to them with positive short throws between gears. The Powershift six-speed automatic transmissions require a fluid change every three years, so check to make sure that this has been carried out. This transmission is also susceptible to the oil seal failing at the input shaft, so if possible try to check for any damp areas or visible oil leaks.
Suspension, wheels, and brakes
The Fiesta is a pretty robust car, but you do still need to watch out for any strange creaks and squeaks from the suspension. A small batch of Fiestas from September 2011 were reported to have faulty rear suspension, whereby the rear axle mounting bolts were not manufactured to the correct specification and could break. This does only affect a small number of cars, but is worth keeping in mind if the vehicle you’re looking at falls within that production period. Also check the front coil springs if you can to try and look for cracks. Some have been known to fail.
Chassis / body
Fifth-gen Ford Fiestas were built using an evolution of the older Ford ‘B’ platform. This is similar to that used on the previous model, which was also sold badged as a Mazda 121. Look out for rust developing on the sills and the edges of the doors, but in general, there are no major issues to look out for.
With the later sixth-gen Fiestas there haven’t been noteworthy issues regarding body corrosion, and most cars will still be covered by Ford’s 12-year/unlimited mileage perforation warranty.
It might not seem like the most obvious thing, but look out for any damp patches inside the cabin on fifth-gen models, especially around the footwells. Some models have been known to develop faults with the pollen filter, which in turn can allow water ingress into the housing and this can make its way into the cabin. If you suspect that the car hasn’t received a service in a while, it can be good practice to replace these filters anyway, and that way you should avoid any issues. Musty smells in the cabin are a sign that the filter may need changing in any case.
For sixth-gen Fiesta models equipped with the digital DAB radio look out for any issues with the battery draining. It has been widely reported that this system can result in a flat battery when the car is left unused for extended periods. The rest of the interior is robust and pretty hard-wearing, though.need parts to keep your Fiesta running smoothly? Click here to browse
At MicksGarage we stock a huge range of parts and accessories for all generations of Fiesta from wind deflectors to window regs and everything else in between. Click here to browse. You might also like to check out the recent infographic we made about the history of the Ford Fiesta